I started out with a new book called Writing the Family Narrative. I got as far as page 34 when I read a sentence about census reports. It stopped me dead in my tracks because I hadn't really looked at them before as a complete record. I got the names, ages, sex, and marital status but hadn't really looked at the checked boxes.
I have been having a problem with my 2nd great grandmother and discovered that Susannah was a 2nd wife and not another name for Sally. The boxes checked were "married within the year". I hadn't seen that before but it goes a long way to explain the name issues. More work certainly needs to be done but it now appears Sally was the first wife and the mother of the children while Susannah and my 2nd great grandfather married when they were both in their 50's.
Given that information, I have copied the blank census forms and am filling them in page by page. I wondered why my great aunt never married but the census says she was handicapped. Wow, what a lot of information I missed.